Scientific or botanical names of plants - how are they written?

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by wcutler, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I would like someone to explain, somewhere that I can find it again, how scientific or botanical names are written - what's in italics, what's in quotes, and what has the first letter in upper case and what doesn't.

    I just almost missed an entry for Photinia in Straley's Trees of Vancouver book because it was listed separately in the index from Photinia. I'm guessing that means something, though maybe it's just that the second entry was a common name and it was just an indexing peculiarity, but a tree listed only in the first entry is what I know by that common name.

    To continue with my question, for instance, the italic baccata in Taxus baccata is a different sort of indicator from the not italic brevifolia in Taxus brevifolia?

    For extra credit, does x indicate a naturally occurring hybrid? And the x is not italic, but what follows it is in italic lower case? How is that different from var., which is not italic, but what follows it is italic and seems it could be upper case or not?

    A link to where this has already been fully described (online, so I can find it again) will be fine. I know I tripped over something like this in the past 6 months, but I have no idea where and the search words don't seem to be occurring to me.
     
  2. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Expect a misprint, would think brevifolia should have been italicized in that case. Species names are italicized with the first letter of genus capitalized, cultivar names are in single quotes is my understanding. Likely best to have this explained properly by someone familiar with the latest rules. Good question.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Correct style is: Genus species subsp. subspecies var. varietas 'Cultivar'.
    Nope; it's also Taxus brevifolia (a distinct species). If someone has the latter not in italics, it's an error. Ditto for Photinia.
    It indicates any hybrid, whether natural or artificial. Where the character is available, it should actually be a multiplication sign × (keystroke: alt+0215), not a letter x. On italics, in most fonts there is no difference between italic or not with the × sign so it rarely matters, but for purism, the sign is in italics when part of a name, and not when part of a hybrid formula (listing of parentage): e.g. the hybrid <i>Pinus × schwerinii</i> is <i>Pinus strobus</i> × <i>Pinus wallichiana</i> (start and end italics indicated with triangular brackets here). For intergeneric hybrids, the sign is placed at the start of the name: × Sorbopyrus.

    In the past it was recommended that the × sign should not be spaced from the name (i.e., Pinus ×schwerinii), but in the latest edition of the ICBN this obvious source for confusion has been changed to recommendation for spacing, to avoid confusion with names beginning with an x (e.g. Rosa xanthina could be mistaken for a hypothetical hybrid Rosa × anthina if the × is not spaced).
     
  4. pierrot

    pierrot Active Member 10 Years

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  5. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Thanks very much, Michael. That took a lot less space to explain than I'd imagined. I should learn to ask questions as succinctly. And thanks for the link, Pierrot.
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    One other convention that I often see given incorrectly, is for unidentified or multiple species, they should be cited:
    Prunus sp. [an unidentified cherry], Prunus spp. [various cherries] (NOT Prunus sp. and Prunus spp.).
    The reason being that 'sp.' and 'spp.' are abbreviations for 'species', and not part of the scientific name.

    Family and other ranks above genus (e.g. Rosaceae subfamily Prunoideae, Rosales, Magnoliophyta) are usually not put in italics, though a few publications do put them in italics (Rosaceae subfamily Prunoideae, Rosales, Magnoliophyta). If submitting a paper for publication, check the style guide for the publication, it will usually be specified.
     
  7. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Wendy, Michael and Pierrot, helpful informative thread, wondering if it could be stickied.
     
  8. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Could anybody explain the rules used for quoting the recognized authors of a given botanical name. For example when Daniel writes

    Does it mean that Franch. & Sav. are the recognized authorities for Dryopteris cycadina ? and what about C. Chr;?
    What does it mean the the x between Wall and Kunze?
    What is the hierarchy of the brackets?

    Gomero
     
  9. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Dryopteris cycadina (Franch. & Sav.) C. Chr.

    Does it mean that Franch. & Sav. are the recognized authorities for Dryopteris cycadina ? and what about C. Chr;?

    Franch. & Sav. published a description of the plant as Aspidium cycadinum (1879) C. Chr. published the name as Dryopteris cycadina in 1905, probably as a revision of the genus. (I don't actually know. I have not read the actual texts for this plant.) When you see the author in brackets like that, it is to cite an earlier published name that the current one is based on. The name outside the brackets is the author of the currently accepted name. The right side bracket after C. Chr. is just part of the sentence and has nothing to do with the nomenclature.

    Dryopteris atrata (Wall. ex Kunze) Ching.

    What does it mean the the x between Wall and Kunze?

    The ex (not "x" here) means that someone published a name and description from another. So Kunze validly published material from Wall.

    Wikipedia does pretty good on this topic.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Author_citation_%28botany%29
     
  10. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Great, thanks Eric.

    Gomero
     

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